The passing of a long-time online friend
|I knew she was busy.
With the demands of her children, grandchildren, and husband, her elderly father, and the never-ending number of committees she joined - or was roped into - I expected her to miss a day here and there. But as day stretched into day, and as my "Are you OK?" messages went unanswered, I began to worry that she was sick, perhaps even in the hospital. Then, finally, I decided I'd better look for her.
I typed her name into the Google window, followed by her hometown, and pressed the Enter key.
In a flash, there was my answer: 'Kat ___ 68, ___________, MA, passed away unexpectedly...'
Somehow I had known it, but it was still a shock.
I had known Kat for nearly fifteen years. 'Known' by the 21st century definition; I had never seen her, nor talked to her, and she didn't even know my last name. Yet we were close; so close that we knew things about each other that nobody else on earth knew. There were no secrets between us. None. We lived by an agreed upon rule: 'I will never say anything to offend you, hurt you, or be mean to you. If you think I have, go back and re-read the rule.' Not once did either of us break it.
It wasn't an online affair; it was purely platonic. Purely friendship with no ulterior overtones.
We helped each other become better writers, although our preferred genres were somewhat different. She wrote relationship stories; sometimes, drawing on her vast knowledge of edible plants, they took place under life and death situations. She wrote of grief and grieving, of patriotism and pride of country, of family, of her feelings, and of other things.
I wrote of Martians, and time travel, and whatever else came to mind, but we critiqued each other's work, offering suggestions and encouragement.
I didn't expect her to be gone so soon.
Now, I don't know what to do. I don't know a single person who knew Kat. I have nobody to discuss her loss with, or tell how much I enjoyed our lengthy emails - when we got the chance - and our short, dashed out 'gotta go's ' when we didn't. It often comes to mind to check my email, to see if I have a message from Kat, but the phrase, 'died unexpectedly' flashes through my mind every time.
I want to share my grief with somebody, but I want to make it plain: I feel a loss, a hollow spot in my heart, but I'm not devastated. I truly believe that she has gone on to her well-earned reward.
She is happy.
I just miss my friend.